Review: Climate of the Hunter (2020) – Fantasia
One of our early reviews was Mickey Reece’s Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart. Well, he has a new film, Climate of the Hunter, at this year’s Fantasia. Set in the 70s, it’s an elegant mix of melodrama and, potentially, vampirism. Sort of like Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte meets Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.
Alma (Ginger Gilmartin, Fingerprints) and Elizabeth (Mary Buss, Camp Cold Brook, Arrows of Outrageous Fortune) are sisters. They’re also totally different. Alma is a recently divorced artist who smokes lots of weed and has a dog who is a philosopher. Elizabeth is a Washington, DC lawyer whose career takes the place of a family.
They’re at Alma’s house out in the woods to catch up with an old friend. Wesley (Ben Hall, Shifter) is returning to the US after twenty years abroad. Charming and sophisticated, he soon has both sisters vying for his attention. There’s just one problem, he might be a vampire. Or maybe Elizabeth is right and Alma is losing her mind.
Reece’s films are known for being built on beautiful cinematography and compellingly stylized dialogue. Climate of the Hunter is no exception. Wesley is full of verbose stories. Meals come with a narrated list of the foods served. And monologues on all manner of things punctuate the film’s events.
In the hands of a less talented director, this would have me turning it off by the halfway mark. But Reece and co-writer John Selvidge keep the story interesting and the dialogue sounding compelling, if not at times downright hypnotic.
The cast deserves a lot of credit for their performances and for making the dialogue work. Apart from the three leads, there are four small roles and that’s it. Wesley’s son Percy (Sheridan McMichael) and Rose (Danielle Evon Ploeger, Girls Guns and Blood, The Pale Door) Alma’s daughter both stop by for short but eventful visits. BJ Beavers (Jacob Ryan Snovel) the local stoner who first suggests Wesley might not be human. And Genevieve (Laurie Cummings, It Lives Inside, Home with a View of the Monster) Wesley’s institutionalized wife. It’s a talented cast who would be a lot better known if they were in LA instead of Oklahoma.
If you can deal with the film’s languid pacing and lack of action, Climate of the Hunter is a rewarding film. Hopefully, this will help Reece get noticed beyond his native Oklahoma and the festival circuit. You can follow the film’s Twitter feed for more screenings and release plans.